March 1, 2011

Soup and Smoothies Make Us Jedis!

Do you believe that you are what you eat? I do. I know when I am concentrating on cooking healthy, whole foods, I feel better and have much more energy. Now that I don't get protein, iron, and calcium from meat and dairy, I am always searching for other ways to incorporate  these important nutrients. This has made me a more informed and creative cook and is one of the many benefits of being vegan!

One of my go-to blogs for new and inspiring recipes is Little House of Veggies. Morgan is super creative in cooking vegan food for her family and often posts pics and videos of her adorable kids helping out! Just goes to show that being a vegan can be healthy at any age. My favorite recipe that I've tried from her blog is the Tomato and Vegetable Soup with Pearl Barley. Vegetable soup is great when you're watching your weight, because it's so low-fat and you can eat a lot and not feel guilty!

Look at all those veggies!
I usually make a few swaps to the types of veggies I use in this recipe: the original calls for asparagus, but Johnny can't eat it, so instead I use a 1/2 cup of frozen corn and a 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame. Johnny is a huge fan of the barley in this soup (much to my surprise!) he says the consistency reminds him of little shrimp... not sure I agree, but I'm just happy he's eating my food. :-) This recipe makes a TON of soup, so just freeze whatever you don't use. I served this with a few pieces of french bread that I buttered with Earth Balance and put under the broiler for a few minutes. Okay, not the healthiest, but it's hard to have soup without bread to dunk in it!

I have also been making a lot of smoothies lately and we've both really been enjoying them! What an easy way to get a bunch of fruit (and even veg) into your diet. They make me feel amazing, like I could move objects with my mind, or win in a light-saber duel with Darth Maul. I buy frozen, organic fruit like berries, pineapple, peaches, etc and then blend them with bananas and some non-dairy milk (I like vanilla flavored almond milk). It's like a little bit of summer in the middle of a dreary winter - what's not to love about that? I also throw in some ground flaxseed for the fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and kale for vitamin C and calcium. You honestly can't taste anything but fruit and these additions make this an extremely healthy meal!  I have been using my immersion blender (a.k.a. stick blender) and the cup attachment that came with it is perfect for blending smoothies. I would tell you to give smoothies a try, but as Yoda says, "Do or do not, there is no try."

Yoda Approved!
(It's really hard to make a smoothie look good in a picture.)
Jedi Knight Smoothie

(Serves 1)

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 banana
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
2-3 leaves raw kale

Toss all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, or use your immersion blender like I do. Garnish with a paper umbrella, maraschino cherries on a toothpick, and suntan lotion.

Nutritional info: Calories 304; Total Fat 4.4g; Saturated Fat 0.4g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 91mg; Carbohydrate 64.6g; Dietary Fiber 8.1g; Sugars 47.2g; Protein 4.8g; Vitamin A 109%; Vitamin C 119%; Calcium 18%; Iron 13%

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